Jagged Edge

Jagged Little Thrill

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Jagged Edge broke through from modest commercial success to star status with their second album, J.E. Heartbreak, which threw off three major hits and sold in the millions. The task for the follow-up, of course, is to keep the momentum going. The group and producer Jermaine Dupri deliberately previewed the album with a mid-tempo dance track, "Where the Party At," featuring rapper Nelly, which was bulleting up the charts when the album was released. It effectively countered the group's image, based on its massive hit "Let's Get Married," as a ballad-heavy, domestically minded outfit, the sort of people not much interested in finding out where the party is at. But the album reaffirms that image, with only a few exceptions. All of Jagged Edge's lyrics are written by twin brothers Brendan and Brian Casey, despite the inclusion of guest rappers on four tracks. (As on the previous album, the more edgy raps have had their vulgarities clipped; wouldn't it have made more sense to ask the rappers to curb their language upfront?) And the Casey brothers are very concerned with promoting responsible behavior among their male peers. Dupri has pushed their more prescriptive sentiments to the end of the album (while making sure the few mid-tempo and up-tempo tracks are near the start), but it is these songs that really define Jagged Edge's viewpoint. On "This Goes Out," the Caseys proclaim tolerance for dodgy actions taken to make ends meet and support children, but they draw the line on "Respect," which preaches against domestic violence. Then, on "Hero of Household," they make clear that it's the man who's supposed to wear the pants in the family: "There's gotta be a leader, and that's me." Such sentiments may not please the women otherwise attracted by the group's call for "Responsibility."

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